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A national position expected from fishing rights conference.



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A National Position Expected from Fishing Rights Conference

24/10/2003

Statement from ATSIC NSW Metropolitan Zone Commissioner Cliff Foley

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always maintained traditional fishing rights and have for far too long been left out of the many economic opportunities that flow from fishing.

The National Indigenous Fishing Rights: Moving Forward 2003 conference in Perth next week will be an opportunity for many of our people to participate and offer views and share experiences in this important matter.

I am confident that there will be a much needed national policy position from Indigenous people on fishing rights and clear direction for our leadership to tackle Governments on the issue.

My fellow NSW Commissioners and I have stated previously that access to commercial fisheries is the birthright of coastal Aboriginal peoples and could provide an economic base for our peoples and their descendents.

South Coast Kooris have fished their traditional sea country since time immemorial and have managed their resources in a skilled and responsible way. They have however, been squeezed out and denied access to these resources.

The Indigenous people of the NSW Coast accept the need for management of the State’s fisheries but such management can only work if it is based on acknowledgement and respect of our native title and other rights rather than our exclusion.

We have stated previously that it is scandalous that more than a decade after the High Court finally recognised our native title rights our people are being hounded by fisheries inspectors, police and the criminal justice system. Indigenous people continue to be arrested for carrying out their traditional practices and this is unacceptable.

We have approached the NSW Government in an effort to work in with their existing strategies on fishing and to try and reduce the high number of our people being prosecuted. The response so far from the NSW Government is promising and we will continue to work with them on this process.

I am looking forward to the conference and hearing the various views from our people

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission

from around the country. I am also looking forward to working with delegates on producing a national position on fishing rights.

Indigenous Fishing Rights: Moving Forward 2003 - Freemantle 27 and 28 October 2003.

Media contact: Commissioner Cliff Foley 0408113040 Denis Maher (ATSIS NSW Communications) 0408432068 Alastair Harris (ATSIS Communications) 0409658177 ATSIS Communications Officer Alastair Harris is attending the conference in Perth.